Polish your page with a SNO Site Review–25% off through June 30

Whether your website is a few months or a few years old, there’s always room for improvement. That’s why, for a limited time, we’re offering SNO Site Reviews for only $75 (normally $100). Order by June 30th, and you’ll receive a personalized, detailed report just in time for the new school year.

What exactly is a Site Review? It’s not a contest, and it’s not exactly a critique, either. It’s a comprehensive overview of all aspects of your website and news coverage. We’ll examine your site from a user’s perspective. We’ll snoop around in your design options and widget layout. We’ll consider things like your social media use and site analytics. We’ll check out your content–headlines, stories, videos. We’ll tell you what’s working great, what isn’t, and most importantly, why.

But we don’t stop there. Standard critiques can leave news staffs feeling overwhelmed or unsure how to proceed. A SNO Site Review always includes a list of action items–concrete, realistic steps toward improvement that you and your staff can take. We’ll help you set achievable goals and show you exactly how to reach them.

Check out what these advisers had to say about our Site Reviews:

By all means, make the investment. Commentary was supportive, corrective, and enormously helpful. Makes a difference when working with true professionals — colleagues, really — who understand all the joys and aches of working with… good journalists in the making.”  — David Bailey, Lincoln High School

“It was incredibly detailed and helpful. It almost became a checklist of what we needed to do to improve. I loved the suggestions about content and coverage, but was really appreciative of suggestions for working on the back end of the website.” — Valerie Kibler, Harrisonburg High School

Make sure to place your order before June 30th to receive the discount. The SNO Patrol lovingly handcrafts Site Reviews in the order they’re received, so your patience is appreciated! We’ll make sure you have yours in hand before the new school year begins.

The SNO Report: Resources for journo advisers

At SNO, we’re focused on making the life of a journalism educator a little easier. With that in mind, here are 8 online resources we think are worth checking out:

EditTeach.org:
Here you’ll find a collection of useful journalism teacher/adviser goodies, including headline challenges, editing resources, ways to improve content, and even a lesson on “math for journalists,” though we don’t know why anyone would be interested in that.

AP Style Quizzes:
Want to focus more exclusively on AP Style? Here is a collection of 18 AP Style Quizzes to give your students. Make sure they’re experts before you send them off into the “real world;” they’ll definitely impress their future J-School classmates at whatever Ivy League school they are sure to get into after taking these quizzes.

Verification Junkie
Here is a blog dedicated to collecting tools for all of your fact-checking needs. The site gives reviews of each product, as well where you can find it.  An invaluable resource for verification and assessment of your user-generated content, especially information gathered from social media.  Basically, an absolute must for all journo advisers everywhere.

Covering sensitive content:
Resources and guides that help your students tackle the difficult topics with grace. This has been a frequent concern in High Schools across the country, especially given varying school policies and audiences.

Make Cool Photo Spheres:
Create Photo Spheres (360-panoramas) similar to what you see on the Google Maps Street View to embed in your stories.  It may not be a feature you’re going to want to use frequently, but, when you do, it will really make those stories stand out.

Berkeley.edu:
Have you always wanted to go to Berkeley to learn more about digital journalism, but it’s not physically possible for you to be there? Now, California education comes to you; Berkely has graciously provided us with this compilation of resources, tutorials, and inspiration for digital journalists. Educate yourselves.

Using A Camera:
Here are some helpful tips on taking photos with a DLSR camera, for those staffs lacking photographers, or for the writers who want to dabble in professional-esque picture-taking.  Sometimes, that iPhone camera just doesn’t cut it.

Have you SEEN these hashtags?:
A super-easy way to search hashtags and create “Seens” (which organize the content and make it accessible to anyone you want to share it with.)  It may seem redundant, as Twitter already allows you to search through hashtags and trending topics, but this user interface is not only more aesthetically pleasing, but also a bit nicer to navigate. If your program uses Twitter regularly, this is definitely worth checking out.

Fresh Powder: AP Change-up, Robot Takeover, and the rise of student journalism

A weekly summary of journalistic tidbits

AP messes with our guidelines again:
The AP Stylebook released its annual updates at the ACES conference this year; no changes too drastic, though. A quick glance over the AP Stylebook’s Twitter pageinforms us that global warming and climate change can be used interchangeably, though climate change is more scientifically accurate. The phrase “committed suicide” is pretty much off the table unless included in a direct quote, and there are quite a few additions to the sports chapter; baseball playoffs, NCAA Tournament, figure skating, and heatstroke, just to name a few.

 

iSportswriter?:
As long as we’re on the subject of new additions in the world of sports journalism,the New Yorker raises the question, is that still a viable job option for human beings? News sources are beginning to rely on automated technology when it comes to sports coverage– using algorithms to not only collect data and scores, but to actually report on the highlights most human sportswriters would be seeking out anyway. The one thing these machines can’t do is capture the real-live human aspect of sports; which, truly, is one of the most important aspects of the industry.

Machines aren’t able to conduct post-game interviews with the players, or asking the coach a few quick questions out on the court. So, is a full-on mechanical takeover on the horizon? Probably not. But sports reporters may have a slight decrease in responsibility with the success and speed these automated machine reporters have over human beings.

 

If this isn’t the best argument for going digital, I don’t know what is:
Google, instead of taking the easy way out with a “no comment,” responded to questions about a potential new streaming plan by sending a Daily Dot reported a cute animated GIF. A rep from Google even went so far as to confirm that as their official response. No print paper is capable of that level of sass.

And, since going digital is something you are all clearly on board with, here’s a Listly compilation of 15 great storytelling tools for all of your online needs. From video production tools to cartoonist apps, you should find something in here that could work for your program– or, at the very least, give your staff a slightly more productive way to procrastinate.

Student Journalists > Professionals:
In case your students haven’t been feeling all that appreciated lately, this SPLC article should assure them their efforts do matter. Because the number of professional reporters involved in government coverage is decreasing, student journalists are becoming an important asset when it comes to reporting related news. In fact, the article states that “in four states, student journalists outnumber journalists from professional outlets assigned to the statehouse full-time, where they ensure citizens have access to information about how the state spends their tax dollars and decisions on education, criminal justice and safety regulations.” That’s more than promising, young journalists, so keep up the incredible work!

These things also happened this week:

John Stewart’s replacement was announced; Trevor Noah, a young South African comedian, is officially the successor to The Daily Show.

+ Have you ever wished you could see all of Tom Hanks’ movies in six minutes? Now you can.

+ McDonald’s is considering serving all-day breakfast.  This is life-changing information.

Eight SNO customer sites named Gold Crown winners by CSPA

On Friday, March 20, 2015, the Columbia Scholastic Press Association announced its top awards for scholastic press publications. We are pleased to announce that eight SNO customer websites were named Gold Crown winners in digital categories.

Two SNO customers were awarded Gold Crowns in the digital division:

Six SNO customers were awarded Gold Crowns in the hybrid division:

Congratulations to the advisers and staffs of these tremendous programs.  For a complete list of winners, please visit the CSPA website.

Printing your paper is easy with SNNO

Sure, online newspapers are great. You’re publishing at the speed of light, you’ve got multimedia options galore, you’re winning awards and SNO badges like nobody’s business. Plus, your website sure looks fancy. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But do you ever get nostalgic for the crinkly newsprint of yore? Do you miss the good old days of embarrassing typos and frantic print deadlines? Maybe you just want something to send your web-illiterate uncle to prove you’re doing something with your life.

SNO has a solution for you! Starting today, we’re launching SNNO–School Newspapers Not Online. With just a few clicks and a $99/month convenience charge, we can give you the best of both worlds. Not only will you continue to have a great website, but every time you publish a new story, we’ll print it out and send it to you in the mail. Using the File>Print function of our state-of-the-art computing machines, we can effortlessly immortalize your digital content on paper. What other web hosting company can claim that?

Do you publish a lot of videos? No problem — we’ll print ‘em frame-by-frame and bind them together in a beautiful, timeless flipbook. A thoughtful gift for that friend of yours who is a little too smug about not owning a television.

What about podcasts? Our podcast transcription service (currently in beta) can take care of that. Word-for-word accuracy not guaranteed, but people will get the gist, probably.

Prefer your “printing” old-school? Our SNNO Handwriting Specialist, Lauren, will be happy to painstakingly hand-write your stories. Customize with your choice of blue pen, black pen, #2 pencil, or crayon. Grammar correction and fact-checking extra.

Need your stories in print RIGHT NOW? If you’re rushing to enter a contest, or are just feeling impatient, don’t despair! Expedite your order for only $15/page, and we’ll send the printed stories to you via fax.

If you’re ready to get started with SNNO today, it’s easy–just send a tweet to @schoolnewspaper. Include the hashtag#FOOLEDYA for 10% off your first month’s subscription fee.

You’re not going to believe what these staffs did on their sites!

We’re feeling a little BuzzFeedy at the SNO office today. Blame it on this spring break list. In that spirit, check out these 12 impressive features we’ve found on sites in the recent weeks. You won’t believe what happens next!

Got something you think is worth sharing? Tweet us the link @schoolnewspaper. Maybe we’ll even pin it!
Speaking of Twitter… did your feed stop working?

We’re not pointing fingers, but Twitter made a recent change that resulted in some feeds no longer displaying on sites. Here’s the good news: there’s an easy fix.  Move your Twitter embed code from a SNO Video Embed Display widget to a SNO Text Widget. The SNO Video Embed widget resizes embed codes, and that resizing is interfering with the feed display. The SNO Text widget is super cool and we recommend it for all embeds that aren’t videos. Still need help? Send us an email.

 In case you missed it

Did you see our note this week about the 16 SNO sites named NSPA Pacemaker finalists? If you’re looking for a little more inspiration, this list of sites is a great place to start.

Sixteen SNO customer sites named NSPA Online Pacemaker Award Finalists

Among the 30 finalists for the Online Pacemaker Award from the National Scholastic Press Association are sixteen websites in the SNO network.

Nine SNO sites were recognized in the Large School Division:

Seven SNO sites were recognized in the Small School Division:

The Pacemaker winners will be announced at the JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention in Denver, April 16-19.

We’re exceptionally proud of the success of these tremendous scholastic journalism programs.

The SNO Report: Distinguished Sites Derangement

It’s badge season at SNO Sites, and things are starting to heat up in our elongated version of March Madness. As the season is about half way over––it started in January and runs through April––we thought it was the perfect time to let you know how things were going.

So far this season, 125 badges have been awarded to 62 schools, which is about a 290% growth in awarded badges over last year at this time. Holy badges! (These numbers have been fact-checked by Lindsay, the only member of the SNO Patrol authorized to operate a calculator.)

The most commonly earned badge is the Excellence in Writing Badge, and the badge that appears to be the hardest to earn––having been awarded only four times––is the Multimedia Badge.

The most elusive award, though, is that of Distinguished Site. So far just three publications have earned this title.  Each of these Texas SNOFlakes is unique in their own way:  The Roar, The Red Ledger, and Legacy Press. The Lone Star gauntlet has been thrown.

Submissions will be accepted until May 1, 2015, and any staff that applies before that deadline with either receive the badge or get feedback on how they can make changes to achieve the badge when they apply again. So what are you waiting for? Apply today!

One more thing…

Speaking of distinguished sites, have you checked out the new website for SNO Sites and the new SNO Sites Customer Portal? As always, your feedback and praise is much appreciated.

Fresh Powder: One dress, two llamas, and lots of censorship

A weekly summary of journalistic tidbits
brought to you by  SNO.

This week, in Journalistic News:

  • “The Dress” is, apparently, relevant: According to Craig Silverman at Poynter, the infamous blue/black/white/gold that almost broke the internet this weekend is a significant reminder that we, as human beings, sometimes see things that aren’t actually there.  He argues we have become too complacent in our senses, and rarely stop to questions what we see or experience.  Journalist, especially, should be extra-aware of human’s unreliable senses; everyone knows about source bias when it comes to reporting, but it’s important that journalists are also skeptical of their own cognitive bias.
  • Scholastic journalism programs are still facing a great deal of censorship: According to the Student Press Law Center, high school students and teachers are still struggling with content censorship when it comes to publication.  A reported 25% of students and 17% of advisers have been censored in some way by school administrative staff.  Over half of the students surveyed in this particular study admitted that someone other than a student editor had control over their student publication, and a smaller- but significant- 7% of advisers have had their position threatened by school officials due to decisions their students had made regarding content in their publications.
  • Llamapalooza! You may think the llamas that dashed through traffic in Arizona last Thursday has nothing to do with journalism, but you would be wrong.  It actually served as a tangible example of how social media has evolved within the realm of news coverage.  As multiple major news outlets covered the story of the rouge llamas, it demonstrated that platforms like Twitter had not only become a necessary supplement for reporters, but as a way for them to set publishing agendas.  AP reports that during the Oscars, it was Twitter’s overwhelming discussion of Lady Gaga’s performance that drove their coverage of the event.  By following trending topics and keeping tabs on conversations surrounding any major event, news networks are finding they can deliver the news audiences want to hear about.
  • New podcast-like app provides real-time audio tours. Detour is a new audio app that delivers interesting information to listeners about historic areas of towns as they walk through them.  Currently only based in San Francisco, the app allows users to connect to stories in a much more intimate, real-time way than ever before.  The app uses your phone’s GPS to provide a self-updating audio-tour of the area you find yourself wandering through, giving you stories based on landmarks you’re near.  It’s basically a living podcast that will enhance your travel plans.
  • Great news for people with sites powered by WordPress (aka, all of you). Twitter now has an official WordPress plug-in, making it even easier to expand your audience with social media integration on your site.  Features include Twitter analytics, video embed, and even a “Tweet” button on the admin side of your site.

These things also happened this week: